Christianization without Economic Development: Evidence from Ghana

Remi Jedwab, Felix Meier zu Selhausen, Alexander Moradi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


One of the most powerful cultural transformations of the 20th century has been the dramatic expansion of Christianity outside of Europe. This unique historical process was facilitated by vast Christian missionary efforts. In this paper, we study the economic effects of Christian missions in Ghana. We rely on six distinct identification strategies that exploit exogenous variations in Christian missionary expansion from 1828 to 1932. We find no association between Christian missions, whether Protestant, Catholic, Presbyterian or Methodist, and local economic development, whether during contemporary or colonial times. However, some results suggest that Christian missions might have had a positive effect on human capital formation. There might thus be contexts in which missions promoted human capital accumulation without this necessarily translating into local economic development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-596
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Economics of religion
  • Religious diffusion
  • Path dependence
  • Long-term economic development
  • Christian missions
  • Christianity
  • Africa


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